|FR500CJ Cobra Jet Mustang
Forty years after its debut, a legend of drag racing is back.
In honor of the 40th anniversary of the release of the first Ford Cobra Jet Mustang in 1968, Ford Racing is introducing the 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang, now available for customers to race in NHRA sportsmen classes during the 2009 season.
The Mustang FR500CJ, known simply as the Cobra Jet, was officially unveiled November 4th at the 2008 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. It joins its road racing brethren the Mustang FR500S, the Mustang FR500C and the Mustang FR500GT.
"The Cobra Jet is the newest offspring of the Ford Racing lineup of race cars," said Jamie Allison, manager of the Ford Racing Performance Group. "We started with the FR500C in 2005 and then followed by the FR500S in 2007.
"All along the way, we worked with Brian Wolfe, who, at the time, was really in the calibration activity. He oversaw worldwide calibrations, and he was a big supporter of Ford Racing, both professionally and personally," Allison said. "He had always kind of asked us about our plans to do a drag race car and the time had just come early this year to, indeed, take all of the lessons we learned, all the processes, all of the relationships that we have inside with the plant and with the team and put together a sportsmen-destined drag race Mustang. Clearly, what we did in 1968 is the impetus for it, and we felt that it was time to bring back the Cobra Jet."
The Cobra Jet is the drag racing equivalent of the Mustang FR500S, allowing those interested in NHRA sportsmen drag racing the opportunity to get involved with an affordable vehicle that can compete right off of the truck and run in the 10-second range.
"We are talking about designing and building competition-ready race cars," added Allison. "These are not just the simple parts that we sometimes create. This is a full-fledged, ready to race vehicle. There is a lot of engineering that goes into the preparation, development, testing, and release of these cars. There's a full team of engineers from Ford Racing who have been involved on the engineering side of the Ford Racing Mustangs, led by Andy Slankard who leads the group. On the Cobra Jet, that group was personally directed and overseen by Brian Wolfe because of his personal background of racing in the sportsmen class. So he's been hands-on involved in the very specifications of the 40th anniversary Cobra Jet. "
In addition to the Cobra Jet, the other Ford Racing Mustangs provide customers a racing ladder, all within one manufacturer, to climb up through the ranks of professional racing. The Ford Racing Mustang ladder in road racing begins with the Ford Racing High Performance Driving School at Miller Motorsports Park featuring specially prepared school Mustangs.
The next step on the ladder is the Mustang FR500S, which is delivered as a race-ready vehicle complete with a racing seat and safety harnesses, and provides competitors with a base to hone their driving skills and an exciting year-long schedule to race against other semi-pro drivers in the Ford Racing Mustang Challenge for the Miller Cup.
Moving further up the ladder puts racers behind the wheel of the Mustang FR500C, which competes in the Grand-Am KONI Challenge Series, and the FR500GT4, which competes in the GT4 European Cup. Both Mustangs are proven winners with each car having won championships in its first year of competition. The FR500C led drivers to championships in 2005 and 2008, while the FR500GT4 has won two titles in the GT4 European Cup in 2007 and 2008.
At the top of the ladder sit both the Mustang FR500GT and FR500GT3, which represent the ultimate race-bred road racing Mustang. The FR500GT is being homologated for Grand-Am Rolex GT and other applications, while the FR500GT3 has already competed in select FIA GT3 European Championship races.
For decades, the Mustang has been the preeminent car in many forms of racing, including drag racing. Adding to the rich and successful racing history of Ford's iconic pony car, the 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang is a factory-built race car that is NHRA-legal and ready for the drag strip. It is the first purpose-built race car from Ford for drag racing since the original Cobra Jet Mustang.
"The Cobra Jet is one of the transformational vehicles for Ford Racing," said Brian Wolfe, director, Ford Racing Technology. "The 2008 CJ will get us more involved with the sportsmen racers in drag racing. At this point there are a lot of little guys who are running Fords from the 60s, 70s and even a few from the 80s, but those cars aren't necessarily relevant to what we are producing today.
"Those Ford racers are among the most loyal Ford supporters and customers we have," Wolfe added. "The CJ makes a statement for our company that even in times as tough as these, we can introduce something as special as the Cobra Jet. As I guy who has tracked Ford history from the beginning and understands the significance of the CJ, this is by far the best factory drag car that we have produced."
The original Cobra Jet Mustang was conceived by drag racing legend Bob Tasca, the competition-oriented Ford dealer in Rhode Island who at the time operated one of Ford's most successful retail operations. Tasca looked to the Ford parts shelf when he wanted to upgrade the engines on some of the Mustangs that he was selling, and came up with the KR-8 conversion package for his performance customers.
Henry Ford II announced that Ford would put together several of the Tasca 428-powered Mustangs for drag teams competing in the 1968 Winternationals, where two of the Mustangs made it into the finals and Al Joniec went on to win the Super Stock championship. After the car's success at Winternationals, Ford announced that it would be producing the 428ci Cobra Jet engine.
"When I made the Cobra Jet engine available to Ford, they found out quickly how good it was and they decided to make it happen," said Tasca Sr. "My feeling has always been that Mustang should be the performance leader for the Ford Motor Company. I like performance that helps me sell the unit. What the Cobra Jet did for Mustang was phenomenal."
The car features a 400-hp 5.4-liter supercharged engine with a standard 6-speed manual transmission, automatic optional, and a drag race wheel/tire combination. The Cobra Jet is NHRA-legal to 10.00 second ETs and has an NHRA Stock Eliminator legal interior and is approximately 3,300 lbs. The car will also showcase a unique trim and appearance design and include an optional 2008 Cobra Jet graphics kit to distinguish itself.
The price of the 2008 Cobra Jet Mustang is $69,900. All 50 of the initial 2008 model vehicles have already been ordered by Ford dealers for delivery to customers. For those customers who miss out on the first run, there's no worry, as Ford Racing has set a goal to provide future versions of the Cobra Jet.
"We've built a Mustang for drag racing that we've very proud of," said Wolfe. "We're confident that this, like all Mustang race cars, will be competitive, and a value for those looking to enter a variety of sportsmen classes. We can't wait to see the car in the hands of customers."
The 2008 Cobra Jet is expected to first compete in the 2009 Winternationals in Pomona, Calif., in February.
* 5.4 Cobra Jet engine
* Cobra Jet cold air kit
* Throttle body
* A/C deleted
* Crankshaft damper
* Cobra Jet bell housing
* 6-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission with SFI bell housing
* Stainless steel long-tube racing headers
* 9" rear axle assembly
* One piece driveshaft drive shaft
* Single hoop drive shaft loop
* Cobra Jet rear control arms and anti-roll bar
* Ford Racing adjustable dampers
* Drag race spring kit
* Cobra Jet wheels -- 15" x 4" (front), 15" x 10" (rear)
* Painted Cobra Jet body in white
* Cobra Jet hood scoop
* Cobra Jet Lexan backlight
* Flush quarter window louvers
* 5" pedestal tachometer
* SVT Mustang short-throw shifter with black shift knob and handle
* Cobra Jet seat package
2008 FR500CJ Cobra Jet Pictures
2008 FR500CJ Cobra Jet Video
Grand Am Cup Mustang Pictures